On your way to a job interview?
Be sure to check out this checklist and valuable interview tips.
Then, take a deep breath, square your shoulders and you will be great!
The following checklist contains some general guidelines when preparing for job interviews. Most are relevant when going on interviews both outside and within the Orthodox employment community.
2 hard-copies of printed resume
Writing or work samples, if relevant, perhaps contained in an inexpensive folder
All printed materials should be professional looking, and be free of spelling errors, typos, smudges, or stains.
Pad or portfolio and pen on/with which notes can be taken
Business cards (if appropriate)
Printed, accurate driving directions and parking information
Personal and professional references (for second interviews)
Name, phone number of contact person, should unexpected circumstances arise en route to the interview
Fully-charged cell phone for the road
Professionally appropriate appearance; check in mirror before leaving for the interview and ask for an informed, objective opinion to confirm
Pressed, clean clothes which are suitable for the work context
Do some homework as to the normative business attire in that environment and dress accordingly; Do not wear overtly “Shabbos” or “Chassunah” clothing to a job interview
Women should not wear tichels or snoods to any interview
Other grooming (clean nails, women wearing nail polish should use a neutral tone; women should wear make-up as appropriate; clean appearance; no strong perfume or cologne); use mouthwash or breath mints beforehand
Despite the prevalence of multiculturalism and diversity in the workplace, it is best to maintain professionally normative standards of dress and appearance as to not attract undue attention
Do “homework” to research company; review website and other materials; talk to others in company, if possible
Based on research, develop prepared, relevant questions to ask the interviewer to convey interest in organization
Have a prepared and fully rehearsed “elevator speech”
Arrange for child care as needed; never bring children of any age to an interview
Get a good night sleep the night before
Plan to be at the interview site about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview; sometimes there is paperwork such as a formal application that you will need to complete anyway; but it also gives you time to settle your mind and mentally prepare yourself for the task at hand
Eye contact from beginning to end
Throughout the interview show a motivated and enthusiastic interest in the position, even if there are some negatives about the job which may come up over the course of the discussion; have prepared questions to ask about the job during interview if nothing else comes to mind at the time; this shows interest on your part
Remember, you are selling yourself to the prospective employer; you are selling your skills, experience, credentials, and personality to show how your package can be of value to the employer; there is always room for humility, but this should be limited during a job interview
During the Interview
Interweave objective and quantitative accomplishments into description of work experience.
Try to answer questions with specifics rather than with generalities.
Balance self-attributed work accomplishments with humility.
Offer yourself as a flexible person rather than someone with limited flexibility (e.g., schedule, willingness to perform certain job functions).
Use correct titles and name pronunciations when addressing interviewers or panel; sometimes, use interviewers first name in responding to a given question.
Take notes jotting down key points of interview questions; use notes in formulation of answers.
Come into interview with 3-5 points that you would like the employer to know about you; if the appropriate opportunities present themselves when answering questions, include there; if not, incorporate them into a “closing statement” (most employers will usually give interviewees an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview; you can use part of that time to make these statements).
Answer questions in a definitive and professional sounding way, using proper English; limit the use of “filler words” such as “like”, “you know”, etc.; never use Yiddish, Hebrew, or Aramaic expressions regardless of the employer.
Turn off your cell phone, Blackberry, etc. (Even “vibrate mode” can be distracting); never take a call during a meeting or interview; remember that a Bluetooth earpiece is not an acceptable piece of jewelry.
Post Interview Follow-up
After the interview, a follow-up email to the person with whom you interviewed as appropriate; thank the person for the opportunity to discuss the position and promptly provide any materials which may have been requested of you.
Monitor your email and voice mail regularly to pick up any messages from an employer and promptly return them; even if you have found another employment opportunity since your interview, it is imperative that you return these messages.
Unfortunately, some employers are not always good with getting back to candidates, even with rejection letters; sometimes you need to be patient; it is reasonable that if you have not heard back from an employer within two weeks of your interview to contact the person to inquire about the status of the employment decision.
Religious Issues (Please note that for definitive guidance, contact your Local Orthodox Rabbi)
Unless the employer brings it up in the initial interviews (e.g., in the context of “weekend work”, if that is indeed an essential part of the job), do not bring up religious observance or holidays until after a job offer is made and accepted or until after starting a job; many people have scheduling issues which may not be related to religious issues; but it is advised to not bring any such points up until later in the process.
If and when it comes to it, limit use of schedule modification requests for religious reasons; employers have the right to expect consistent full-time attendance during work hours and work days; before making such requests, differentiate between “absolute” holidays like Shabbos, Rosh Hashana, Yom Tov, etc. and requested time off for personal simchas and pre/post Yom Tov travel days.
Avoid using religious oriented words of phrases such as “Baruch H-shem”, “Chas V’Shalom” etc., even when interviewing with a frum employer.